Installation explores language, spirituality, learning through poetic and experimental writing across contexts


Emerson Contemporary — Emerson College’s platform for presenting contemporary visual art — proudly presents “Kameelah Janan Rasheed: all velvet sentences as manifesto, Like a lesson against smooth language or an invitation to be feral hypertext,” a multimedia solo exhibition featuring visual artist Kameelah Janan Rasheed (American, born 1985) on view in the Media Art Gallery at 25 Avery Street from January 23 through March 23, 2024. Free and open to the public, exhibition hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 12–6:00 p.m. 

The multimedia site-specific installation combines new video drafts and existing video works from the last three years. All created using some form of a writing and video editing constraint, these works live alongside several 2D works also created using constraints to explore the agility and limitations of language. With an investment in Black experimental poetics, non-linear cosmologies, and fugivity, Rasheed asks, “What can be captured through writing? What is lost? And how can this inevitable loss be an invitation to consider other modes of communication?” Rasheed incorporates abstract shapes, gestures, and markings that border visual glossolalia and asemics. She presents these works alongside diagrammatic compositions of letters (Latin and Arabic) diacritics, and fragments of annotation.

In this temporary gathering of objects and ideas, Rasheed engages in intervals of self-study to explore her relationship to the widely respected poet Lucille Clifton’s legacy of spirit writing and other “wayward” methods of writing. With particular attention to Clifton’s poem “i was born with twelve fingers,” this exhibition considers the “powerful memories of ghosts” that emerge during these less traditional writing practices. Overall, the project explores writing constraints to generate more feral and intuitive writing. Rasheed writes, “Lucille Clifton’s spirit writing and self-description as a ‘two-headed woman’ piqued my interest in writing as a sacred, trickster, and fugitive ritual.”

Rasheed thinks conceptually about text, type, and printed matter and uses publishing as a platform to engage and enlarge conversations with others. Her work invites important questions about the materiality of text, such as, “What is the shape of a failed sentence?” or even to quote Fred Moten speaking to the work of Renee Gladman, “Is there an underground railroad in the sentence?” These questions are central to the artist’s practice. 

This exhibition is accompanied by a lecture performance and a reader created under Rasheed’s publishing project Scratch Disks Full.

Press Image Folder

Exhibition Events:

  • Satellite workshop, John Hopkins University - If, Then: Technology and Poetics, Friday, January 19, 2024 [zoom]
    Time: 1:30– 3:30 p.m. 
    Location: Zoom (via
  • Artist Reception, Tuesday, January 23, 2024
    Time: 5–7:00 p.m.
    Location: Media Art Gallery, 25 Avery Street, Boston, MA
  • Writing With Word Games, a text score workshop, Friday, February 23
    Time: 2–4:00 p.m. Registration required (via Eventbrite)
    Location: Media Art Gallery, 25 Avery Street, Boston, MA
  • Book Launch, Friday, February 23, 5:00 p.m. Attendees will receive a complimentary copy of the Scratch Disk Full publication. 
    Location: Media Art Gallery, 25 Avery Street, Boston, MA
  • Lecture/Performance with Kameelah Janan Rasheed, Tuesday, February 27, 2024 at 6–7:30 p.m. Registration required (via Eventbrite)
    Location: Walker Building, Room 202. 120 Boylston Street, Boston, MA
  • Curator Talk by Dr. Leonie Bradbury, Saturday, March 23, 2024, 2–3:00 p.m. 
    Location: Media Art Gallery, 25 Avery Street, Boston, MA

About the Artist

A learner, Kameelah Janan Rasheed explores writing practices across all species, states of living, states of consciousness, and substrates. Curious about the poetics and possibilities of loss, ruin, and failure in the reading and writing process, Rasheed explores Black knowledge production and fugitivity. She creates sprawling, “architecturally-scaled” installations; public installations; publications; prints; performances; performance scores; poems; video; and other forms yet to be determined. Most recently, she is a recipient of a 2023 Working Artist Fellowship; a 2022 Schering Stiftung Award for Artistic Research; a 2022 Creative Capital Award; a 2022 Artists + Machine Intelligence Grants - Experiments with Google; and a 2021 Guggenheim Fellowship in Fine Arts. 

Her recent solo exhibitions include KW Institute of Contemporary Art (2023), Art Institute of Chicago (2023), and Kunstverein Hannover (2022). In 2024, she will have a solo exhibition at  REDCAT (Los Angeles, CA). Rasheed is the author of five artists' books: in the coherence, we weep (KW Institute, 2023); i am not done yet (Mousse Publishing, 2022); An Alphabetical Accumulation of Approximate Observations (Endless Editions, 2019); No New Theories (Printed Matter, 2019); and the digital publication Scoring the Stacks (Brooklyn Public Library, 2021). She is an adjunct instructor at the Cooper Union and Barnard College, a Critic at Yale School of Art, Sculpture, and an instructor at the School for Poetic Computation. Rasheed founded Orange Tangent Study, a consulting business that provides artist micro-grants and supports individuals and institutions in designing expansive and liberatory learning experiences. 

Rasheed is represented by NOME Gallery in Berlin, Germany.

About Emerson Contemporary

Emerson Contemporary is the College’s platform for showcasing contemporary visual art. It is focused on presenting living artists, their ideas, experiments and creative practices in the areas of media art, performance art and emergent technologies, while critically examining these works in their social context.

About the College

Based in Boston, Massachusetts, opposite the historic Boston Common and in the heart of the city’s Theatre District, Emerson College educates individuals who will solve problems and change the world through engaged leadership in communication and the arts, a mission informed by liberal learning. The College has approximately 4,161 undergraduates and 554 graduate students from across the United States and nearly 70 countries. Supported by state-of-the-art facilities and a renowned faculty, students participate in more than 90 student organizations and performance groups. Emerson is known for its experiential learning programs at Emerson Los Angeles, located in Hollywood, and at its 14th-century castle, in the Netherlands. Additionally, there are opportunities to study in Washington, DC, London, China, and the Czech Republic, Spain, Austria, Greece, France, Ireland, Mexico, Cuba, England, and South Africa. The College has an active network of 51,000+ alumni who hold leadership positions in communication and the arts. For more information, visit

For more information contact

Rosemary Lavery

Contact by phone: 6178248540